Friday November 30 in the United Free Church, Totnes at 7.30pm
Steven Devine is known to many local people through his various roles as a performer, conductor and tutor at the Dartington Summer School.
He is the Co-Principal keyboard player with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, made his London conducting debut in 2002 at the Royal Albert Hall, where he regularly performs, and has recorded over 30 discs including six solo recordings.
He is currently on a month’s tour of Malaysia with the OAE. His partner, soprano Kate Semmens, has also been involved at the Summer School at Dartington and has sung and recorded with the Monteverdi Choir, Gabrieli and Dunedin Consorts, and Eric Whitacre Singers, as well as performing a host of operatic roles.
Passion and knowledge
She has just recorded an album of Haydn songs and duets for Resonus Classics. Both are passionate and knowledgeable about the music they perform, and communicate their enjoyment and enthusiasm whenever they appear.
It was this combination of qualities as well as their wonderful musicianship which drew Totnes Early Music Society (TEMS) to invite them to perform music written in the late 18th century when the fortepiano was at the height of its popularity.
Fortepiano at its heart
At the heart of their programme is a copy of a Viennese fortepiano built by Mattheas Heilmann in 1785, exactly the kind of instrument that Mozart and Haydn would have known.
TEMS organiser Jill Tomalin notes that this is the first time in more than ten years that the society has featured this little heard instrument: “We were thrilled when Steven Devine offered a programme of music for the fortepiano: this is a rare chance to better understand how keyboard instruments were developing at this point.
As Mozart and Haydn would have heard it
“More importantly though, this is a great opportunity to hear songs and piano music from two great composers, Mozart and Haydn, as they would have heard it.”
Steven and Kate’s concert, O Tuneful Voice, will include songs by both Mozart and Haydn, as well as Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A Minor and Haydn’s E Minor Piano Sonata.
It concludes with Haydn’s dramatic Arianna a Naxos, first performed in London in February 1791 by the composer himself with the soprano castrato Gasparo Pacchierotti, Steven Devine’s website, stevendevine.com, has an informative video demonstrating the fortepiano he will be playing, including an insight into three mysterious levers under the keyboard which are played with his knees.
O Tuneful Voice takes place on Friday 30 November at 7.30pm at the United Free Church in Totnes, and is the latest in a series of six concerts from TEMS in association with the Arts at Dartington. More information can be found on the TEMS website.
All TEMS concerts are open to everyone. Tickets are available in advance from the Dartington website. www.dartington.org, and Box Office (01803 847070) or on the door. Advance tickets are £13 (under 18s £5), with on the door tickets priced at £14/£5.
top image: Steven Devine & Kate Semmens
Philip R Buttall
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